Never Give Up

by Bruce Gilberd

(Based on Luke 12:13-21; Hosea 11:1-11; Col 3:1-11)

In 1955 I was running in my school steeplechase.  As I was overtaken by one of my still best friends, I heard him saying to himself, “Keep going!  Keep going!”
This could be the underlying theme of today’s three readings (and relevant, in the shadow of the current Birmingham Commonwealth Games) as we all “run the race that is set before us”: Keep going!

The book of Hosea has a sense of intimacy, as the prophet describes God’s relationship with Israel.  God’s deep love for Israel as he calls and recalls his people is seemingly evident – even when “the more I called, the more they went away from me”.  Yet, “how can I give you up, Ephraim, how can I hand you over, Israel?”  God is the love that will never let Israel go; never let the church go; never let you and me go – ever.  God’s call to us to keep on going.

We are to keep responding, keep going, keep running in the race set before us.

Never give up!

Paul in his Colossian epistle urges believers not to ease back into their old ways.  They are to keep living out their indelible connection to Christ, in whom their life is hidden and protected.  Don’t revert – or divert – from your call to live transformed lives.  Don’t ease up.  Keep going.

And so to Luke, and Jesus’s parable on greed, which is such a human flaw.
“Be on your guard,” Jesus admonishes his disciples, “against all kinds of greed.”

What greeds might he be referring to?

  • The greed for money and things?
  • The greed for praise?
  • The greed for power?
  • The greed for attention? (Not least in our conversations?)
  • The greed for impersonal, sensual pleasure?

And so on …
Also, on the world scene, there is the greed for domination, land and profits …

No, says Jesus, be rich towards God – that is the greatest treasure – for nations, churches and believers.
Keep on growing as a person.

Time and again the Scriptures, and Jesus himself, keep encouraging us to keep going – keep walking on God’s way, up hill and down dale – never giving up.   Keep letting God’s light and love shine through us.

This will involve,

  • Keep praying
    • together
    • and alone – being still and attentive in God’s presence
  • Keep reaching out to others
    • those we know
    • those we don’t
  • Keep seeking justice
    • locally
    • globally

Of course, we all need resources for the daily walk of discipleship, if we are to avoid wrong turns and side trips, and sustain our forward journey.
May I recommend something like this – daily/weekly? (Most of us are probably giving it our best already.)

  • Early in the day, be still.  Wait with a receiving disposition.  “Contemplation is the spring which leads to right action, the stream.”
  • Access a resource that feeds your heart and soul and mind.  It is likely the Scriptures and prayers will be part of this.
  • Have projects and involvements that build relationships with others … and that will build if you listen accurately and respond with empathy.
  • Seek to be informed about what is going on in the world, and locally – participate and pray – here, weekly, together.  And alone.  Have broad interests.
  • Give thanks, often, for this land of Aotearoa, and the planet – and walk outdoors as often as you can with your phone switched off.

Five simple guides – a pattern.  All giving God time and space to grace and guide us – so we don’t lose heart, but keep going, forward.  Joyfully.  Courageously.

Let us all keep on going in the way God has called us; right to our end, which will be a new beginning!

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